By the end of the summer, more than 10,000 high school students were charged with violating federal laws on sex trafficking, including sexual exploitation.
But the problem is getting worse, experts say.
The Justice Department and the Education Department have launched investigations of schools that failed to take action to protect students from sexual exploitation, including in cases where teachers allegedly coerced students into sex.
And in at least one case, federal prosecutors say, a high school counselor and a school principal were accused of covering up a student’s rape.
“This is not a new problem,” said Jennifer D. Kappes, a law professor at the University of New Mexico who has written about sexual exploitation at the high school level.
“These issues were present for decades before we started seeing them as serious.”
Kappes also pointed to other recent high school sex-trafficking prosecutions in the United States that are not believed to have resulted in convictions.
In some cases, teachers and administrators were accused and convicted of crimes that were never charged, including the conviction of a teacher at a public high school for making sexual comments about a student.
The case was later dropped.
Kappe said that if the problem at the school was so serious, schools should be held accountable for what they do.
“We should be asking why these schools are doing what they’re doing, why they’re allowing students to be victimized and to be exploited,” she said.
In the wake of the Kappesses report, some school districts have begun adopting policies to prevent students from being victims of sexual exploitation in the classroom.
In one case in California, the district implemented a policy that prohibits students from bringing “any kind of physical or emotional intimacy” into the classroom, even if they are present.
The policy applies to both students and teachers.
“We have a lot of resources and a lot to do,” said Jessica Roush, deputy director of the National Center for Education Statistics, who is not involved in the California high school cases.
“But if you are going to be able to address the underlying issues of sexual violence, you have to do that.”
Many schools that have adopted the policy have been praised by critics for their willingness to address sexual exploitation and sexual abuse on campus.
The policy has also attracted national attention.
Last year, the Trump administration announced it would fund more than $400 million to train and equip school districts to combat sexual exploitation of students.
The Trump administration also announced that the Education department would create an interagency task force to study the problem of sexual abuse in schools and develop strategies to address it.
Koppes said the department has a broad mandate to combat sex trafficking and exploitation in schools, but that its focus will be on schools that do not have strong anti-sex trafficking programs.
The task force’s report, which will be published this month, will focus on strategies for schools to combat human trafficking, said the task force chair, Andrea L. Williams, a former attorney general of Virginia.
“What we will see is a great deal of collaboration and collaboration between the agencies to try to find solutions,” she added.
The report also will look at ways to better train teachers and counselors to prevent sex trafficking in schools.
“I don’t know how many other states have the resources and the resources to take on this problem,” Williams said.
“I think it’s a real opportunity to really bring awareness to this.”
The taskforce will also look at strategies to prevent student abuse and abuse in the workplace.
In a report published last year, researchers at Rutgers University and the University, Boston, concluded that sexual exploitation is a pervasive problem in the U.S. workplace.
But the taskforce said that schools need to do more to identify and address student sexual abuse, and that the federal government should be doing more to protect workers from sexual abuse.
“Our nation’s colleges and universities are already addressing these issues, but the federal Government needs to be stepping up,” Williams wrote.
The department is also working on a proposal to expand the definition of sexual misconduct to include student sex abuse.
The proposal was announced last week by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The federal government has been slow to enforce existing laws and regulations that protect students against sexual exploitation because it has been too hard to prove what happened to a student in the past, said John T. O’Brien, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University who specializes in law enforcement.
But he said the Education Dept. should be encouraging states to follow state and local law and take a proactive approach to addressing student sexual exploitation problems.
“The more we know about it, the more we should be able and willing to take that initiative and make changes in those states,” he said.
O’Brien also said the Justice Department should be involved in a nationwide survey that will track students’ perceptions of the problem.
The Education Department also is developing a national strategy to tackle sexual exploitation that is being developed by the department’s Office of